I read recently that Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas (is You) entered Spotify’s top 40 downloads in the second week of November a full three weeks earlier than 2019. It struck me that one of two things have happened. Either, the idea that if people can hasten the arrival of Christmas then the end of 2020 will arrive equally quickly, and therefore we can then hopefully get back to our normal lives! Alternatively, (and I suspect more likely), people can’t wait to the joy and celebration of Christmas. The sharing of gifts and interaction… and the excitement that a baby brings.
However, you’re feeling about the end of 2020, can I take a moment to thank you for sticking with east to west over a challenging year, not just for us as a charity, but for the world as a whole. Human nature determines that when adversity strikes, we batten down the hatches, hunker into ourselves and prepare for the onslaught. We’ve felt the opposite of this this year. We’ve been blessed with kindness and generosity, prayer and blessing in equal measure. Thank you. It can’t always have been easy. Please know we are so grateful to you that you did.
As we head into 2021, east to west are looking to improve the diversity of our trustee board and have a particular need for someone with an HR background. Please pray that God will lead the right people to us and if you think this could be you, or someone you know, please do pass on our details. We’d love to hear from you/them.
Here’s hoping and praying you have a blessed Christmas and New Year
Dan and the east to west Team
December 2020 –
Reasons to be Thankful
This month we felt it appropriate to take a slight detour from our current series on Motivation, so we could reflect on the past 12 months, and give thanks to God for His Grace and Favour.
The Team: We are so grateful for our team. They have learnt to adapt and change the way they’ve delivered Relational Support Work that the children, young people and families they support have needed, developing new skills with technology and resources.
January 2020 began with the threat of COVID-19 looming on the horizon and our team continued to work face to face, focused on bringing hope in a situation which looked increasingly bleak. Schools closing in March meant that they needed to quickly change their working methods and patterns, with many turning home spaces into safe spaces for those they continued to support. With the availability of technology, they quickly moved onto face to face calls to students, learning how to use new resources and overcoming their own technical gremlins. When schools tentatively reopened, our team were there, putting the needs of others first. In many cases, they were the only external agency in the school, showing the regard they’re held in.
As we head towards into 2021, our team will grow as we recruit for Teddington Secondary School and Goldsworth Primary in Woking. Yet another reason for us to be thankful to God for who He is bringing us into contact with and the opportunities He’s providing.
Emerge Volunteers: It’s safe to say that without our team of volunteers, Emerge wouldn’t be possible. Ulla, Liz, Kathleen and Johanna are all doing amazing things at St. Peter’s on a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evening. They are getting alongside young people in a way that makes a massive difference, not just for the young person and their family, but also in helping support the clinical staff at the hospital. Not only are our volunteers making a sacrifice of time and skill by committing to Emerge, but all are putting themselves into a COVID-19 risk area to do it. Please continue to pray for safety for our volunteers over the coming weeks and months.
The Trustees: Our trustees have faced a busy year! They’ve played a key role in east to west’s engagement with the Surrey Wellbeing Partnership, the consortium of 10 charities, formed to provide early help intervention support across the county from April 2021. They have had to look at east to west’s in this new group, as well as monitor risk, provide governance support and work closely with Ant to ensure east to west’s involvement remains true to its ethos.
Alongside this, they’ve continued to provide ongoing strategic oversight as well as giving their time, skills and talents to ensure east to west remains active and thriving in difficult times.
Our School/Hospital Partners: It would be remis of us to reflect on our reasons to be thankful this year without recognising the commitment and sacrifice of our partners. Many school staff have continued to work diligently throughout the year ensuring that children and young people can continue to be educated and supported despite the pandemic. They’ve run the very real risks of infection within their environments but have put their own concerns to one side, so they can continue to do what they’re most passionate about. We are so grateful for their ongoing commitment and sacrifice.
Our Funders: Given the precarious financial situation in which COVID-19 has left many charities and organisations, we’ve been incredibly blessed to receive funding from a significant number of foundations and grant making trusts. Alongside this, you, our supporters have continued to give sacrificially to support our work. This is such a blessing for us at east to west because we know it’s a gift from you to us which you’re entrusting us to use wisely and to bring hope. We continue to strive to honour these gifts in this way.
The Impact: We recognise that we’re in the privileged position of supporting young people. This is the feedback from one young person and their father.
I started my first sessions with east to west as I was suffering from extreme anxiety as well as certain phobias, which would often make me pass out and self-harm. I was really nervous during my first sessions, but Ruth (Relational Counsellor) helped me build up trust and after a number of sessions I decided to open up about my suicidal thoughts.
Since then I was able to fully open up to my parents, which was a huge relief to be able to speak openly and no longer hide how I was feeling. I feel that if I had not spoken to Ruth, I would have harmed myself and that the sessions I had with her, helped me a great deal.
We as parents could not be happier with the level of care, Ruth provided for “X”. We were living with his struggles and not able to see a way of relieving the clear distress he was under. He was a troubled child, having to face school every day, a place full of triggers and dangers, unhappy with himself and the world he is in. Not knowing how to express his fears, frustrations, and emotions, it often manifested in harm to himself and verbal harm to his family. Locking himself away from us and others. We were not aware how low “X” was. The incredibly upsetting thoughts he was having and his focus on harm, rather than recovery.
Ruth, in her sessions, have given him focus, a stronger sense of understanding of how he is and a clear path to a better future. One he wants to be a part of. One he can now have positive dreams and ambitions about. It has been an incredible change for him and us. He has moments, but he is far happier now. He feels armed with some tools to face his daily fears and struggles. It has been quite remarkable what Ruth has done. We are eternally grateful and thankful she was able to step in at this moment in his young life and play a huge part in it becoming a much happier one.
This month we’re praying for Eliz, who is the east to west Emerge Lead. Eliz has been with us for many years, initially joining the team to deliver a research project around University attendance. She then took on the role at Iver, before launching Emerge at St. Peter’s Hospital in 2019.
Thank God we’ve been able to do another full term of Emerge and that the hospital have seen the value of what we do and let us continue amidst the restrictions
Thank God for our wonderful volunteers who blow me away with their commitment and sacrifice to be there for the young people. We’ve also had new members join us this term and we’re very thankful for that!
Please pray for our volunteers as they are in the hospital – that they may be kept safe and free of COVID-19 but also that they may be filled with wisdom and hope as they engage with young people.
As always, we’d always love more people to join us so do be praying for new volunteers as we look to expand the project and add more evenings.
Please pray for the hospital staff, especially as Christmas approaches and this already busy time of the year is added to by the pressures of COVID-19.
September next year our current funding will come to an end so do pray for funding for the project moving forward.
Simon (my husband) and I are very thankful that through all the chaos of this year we’ve both been able to keep working and adapt to the circumstances. However, unsurprisingly we are starting to feel the effects of the past year and not being able to be with friends, family and church community as we would usually. Therefore, we are really looking forward to Christmas and getting away to spend time with family, do pray that this will be a refreshing time for us before we head into the New Year.